Haskell winner Bayern was set as the 2-1 favorite at Tuesday evening's post position draw for the 145th running of the Grade 1 $1.25 million Travers Stakes in downtown Saratoga Springs. The race will be run on Saturday afternoon at Saratoga Race Course and will be televised live by NBC Sports (Ch. 2, 4:30 p.m.). Post time for the Travers is 5:46 p.m. ET.
The Bob Baffert trained-colt drew post No. 2 in the battle of 10 colts looking to move forward in the 3-year-old colt division. Since 1901, that post in addition to No. 4 has the most winners (20) in the race nicknamed the Mid-Summer Derby. The Hall of Fame trainer will ship in his fast colt from California and try to turn the Haskell-Travers double, a feat he accomplished in 2001 with Point Given.
Jim Dandy winner Wicked Strong (7-2) is the second choice on the morning line for trainer James Jerkens, who won the 2010 edition with Afleet Express. In the past 16 years, the winner of the Grade 2 Jim Dandy Stakes has emerged as the Travers champion 10 times and in four of the last five editions. Last year was the lone exception, although the runner-up, Will Take Charge went on to win the Midsummer Derby and later claim the 3-year-old champion Eclipse Award.
Jerkens added blinkers to Wicked Strong in the Dandy and it made a world of difference for his colt who drew post No. 7. "It definitely made him get on the bit. [Jockey] Rajiv [Maragh] sent him away from there a little bit, too, so I think it was a little bit of both It was a combination of blinkers and Rajiv sending him from there because he wanted to get a nice spot going into the turn that made him close to the pace. I can't deny that he does seem to run straighter and truer with them on, no question," said Jerkens who will also send V.E. Day (15-1) to the post.
Third choice Tonalist (3-1) drew post No. 6 for trainer Christophe Clement. Jockey Joel Rosario will be in the saddle on the Belmont winner. Assistant trainer Christophe Lorieul was pleased with the draw. "From [post] 5 on up, that was good for us. We didn't want to get stuck on the inside. He has tactical speed, but it really is his game being close up and behind horses. He wants to be in the clear. He has a very long stride. The No. 6 is a pretty good post," said Lorieul.
The field for the $1.25 million Travers (1 1/4-miles):
|8||Kid Cruz||Rice||I Ortiz Jr||12-1|